The biggest back story surrounding the opening of Charles Saatchi's brilliant new gallery space in Chelsea (see also In the Frame, page 10) was whether or not Sotheby's were ever going to take it. They had been looking for another venue to show contemporary work in London but apparently dithered so much that the 70,000sqft site was eventually suggested to Saatchi by property consultants Pilcher Hershman. Saatchi bit – and London now has a gallery to rival his original space up in St John's Wood.
Critics have been snitty about the collection – but I'd say their displeasure is largely the result of jealousy. The Revolution Continues: New Art from China is not only the most comprehensive exhibition of contemporary Chinese art ever shown in the capital, it is also a wonderful example of Saatchi's populist streak. He's a man who has forgotten more about art than most critics will ever know, and without him there would have been no appetite for the likes of Tate Modern or the commercialisation of Frieze.
The show is also curated in a very obvious fashion, which, in my view, is the only way to do it. I'm sick of the way curators put on generic exhibitions, patronisingly drawing lines between artists. Saatchi said the same thing last week: "I just go by what shapes and colours work together ... The poncey way curators try to demonstrate their 'vision' by highlighting connections gives me the collywobbles."
Now that we live in an age in which galleries are more popular than theme parks (if you don't believe me, try visiting Tate Modern this afternoon), where artists are the celebrity equal of those for whom fame is an occupation, and where art is one of the few investments bucking the trend, a new Saatchi Gallery deserves to be welcomed. While his first gallery felt like a genuine innovation – big New York-style white spaces on the fringes of civilisation – Saatchi's move to the old GLC building on the South Bank was a miscalculation. The building itself looked and smelled like it always had done: wood-panelled municipal orthodoxy.
This new one rocks.
Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'Reuse content